How Do You Pay A Personal Injury Lawyer?
Short Answer— On a contingency fee basis at the end of your case. Therefore, it costs nothing out of pocket to hire a lawyer for your personal injury or wrongful death case. Instead of paying an initial retainer and being charged on an hourly rate owed each month, the law allows us to handle these type of cases on a contingency fee basis.
Watch the below video to learn more about how the contingency fee arrangement works and other amounts you may owe at the end of your case:
Keep reading to learn more about how you pay for a personal injury lawyer.
How The Contingency Fee Works
Our firm, as well as all other personal injury firms, do not charge any retainer up front and instead our attorneys are paid a contingency fee at the end of the case upon receipt of a verdict or settlement in your case. The contingency fee is a percentage of whatever is recovered on your behalf from the case.
The Percentage Typically Charged
For most personal injury and wrongful death matters, injury lawyers charge a contingency fee of one-third (33 1/3%) of your total settlement if a settlement is reached before suit is filed. If suit is filed in your case, the contingency fee typically increases to forty percent (40%) of whatever is recovered after suit is filed whether that be an eventual settlement before trial or a verdict at trial.
The reason for the larger contingency fee after suit is filed is due to the increased amount of work necessitated by the lawyer to litigate your case and prepare it for trial. Not to mention the significant amount of added time the lawyer will be working without pay once suit is filed. Most cases these days takes at least 6-10 months of litigation to either settle after suit is filed or be prepared for trial.
Is A Fee Owed If You Lose Your Case?
NO. Keep in mind it is a very rare thing for one of the cases we take on to generate no settlement or amount awarded at trial. However, if this were to happen, you do not owe your personal injury lawyer anything for their time working on your case.
The way we view this relationship is that we took on the risk of potentially getting nothing just like you did. After all, you are injured or lost a loved one. The last thing you need to be worried about if you lose your case is owing your lawyer for all of his or her time.
Keep in mind that while you never owe a personal injury attorney a fee if you lose your case, you may owe the firm for any expenses of litigation paid on your behalf during the case. Lets talk about that component now.
Why Is The Percentage So Much?
When we first explain the above percentages to new clients, we often times get the knee jerk reaction question why the percentage is so high. The answer is several reasons.
First, remember the injury lawyer is working without pay sometimes for years. We have had complex cases last eight years. This puts a large strain on the lawyer financially and the rate of the percentage the lawyer receives compensates for waiting so long to be paid for his or her services.
Second, the attorney is taking a risk of never receiving compensation for his or her services if the case is lost either by technicality before trial or by not receiving an award from the jury at trial. The rate of the contingency fee partially compensates the lawyer for the risk he or she is taking in accepting representation of the cases on a contingency fee.
Additional Amounts Owed At The Conclusion Of Your Case
In keeping with the idea that you do not owe anything at the beginning of and during your case, injury and accident attorneys pay all expenses necessary to prosecute your case up front for the client out of the firm’s money. You do not have to reimburse the firm for these expenses until the end of your case out of your settlement or verdict separate from the contingency fee.
How much does this cost?
During the pre-suit stage of your case, expenses are pretty low. They typically include the cost to the firm in obtaining your medical records from each of your doctors to the cost for certified mail. Typically, pre-suit expenses total around a few hundred dollars.
As I am sure comes as no surprise, the moment suit is filed these expenses go up quickly. It costs several hundred dollars just to file a complaint in most counties. Then there are the expenses associated with taking depositions of various parties and witnesses. Finally there is the cost of preparing the case for and conducting the trial of the case in front of a jury.
Are Expenses Owed If You Recover Nothing?
There is a possibility that expenses covered for you during the pursuit of your case will still be owed even if you lose the case in court. Again, it is very rare for a case we handle to generate no recovery but because of the nature of litigation, it is always a possibility. Each case is different so you and your lawyer will have to discuss whether expenses are owed by you at the end of your particular case after a loss in court.
Remember this fee and expense structure has been created to help you. The last thing you want to worry about after an injury is how you are going to afford to pursue your case. Because the law allows us to handle these cases as discussed above, we can ensure that you are able to seek the just compensation you deserve.